Five by Five #1 – Hungry Pandas a.k.a. Weekend Larps

Note: Five by Five is a new feature on Skirts ‘n’ Wolves, which will run on the first Monday of every month. I’m a huge lover of all sorts of lists, and larp-related ones fit right in. Come to think of it – got a great larp list idea? I’d love to hear about it ! Drop a comment or an e-mail.

Since the outdoor larping season is about to begin, at least in my immediate vicinity (Mediterranean spring…!), I thought I’d share a handy checklist for weekend larps. You can use it as a reminder for planning the next outdoorsy weekend larp you’re going to, or as inspiration for your annotated packing list for any camping whatsoever. (What? I’m a librarian! Of course I make annotated packing lists!)

Feel free to add whatever you feel necessary – removing works perfectly as well. I’m sure there are larps for which you have to consider things I’d never dream of (but I’d like to hear about at Also, please note that this Five by Five was created with two or three day camping larps in mind. Not all weekend larps involve camping, heavens forbid. Just the outdoor events you can run into in the middle of someone’s forest or crops (quite common in Croatia).

Weekend larps - outdoor experience for adventuring geeks.

One / Story

#1 Will I play a new character or return to an old one? Am I sure I want to continue that one? Sometimes it’s the easiest question, sometimes the toughest. And, apart from your free time and funds availability, the most important one. It defines everything that follows – so be sure to… well, be sure.)

#2 What do I want my character to be like this time? And what do I need to do to bring her there? Especially important if playing recurring characters – not all of them can stand the test of time (read: sometimes they just get boring).

#3 Do I feel like fighting, healing, chanting, stealing or sulking in a corner? (Yup, done all that… err… maybe not the healing part just yet.) Important if creating a new character – but also changing an old one.

#4 Do I wanna connect with other larper packmembers to create a character group? Have I got the nerves for everything it takes, including innumerable FB player groups, neverending costume arrangements etc.?

#5 What’s the best way to convey my ideas to the organizer/s? Otherwise known as “will they murder me if I write just a sentence or two or if I write several… err, ten to twenty pages of character backstory? A little bee told me last week that a GM group might impose special length restrictions in the future for my co-alpha – the “ten to twenty pages” are not something I made up, trust me! But her post-event reports are abundant as well – which the GMs tend to really appreciate.

Two / Transport

#1 Who’s driving? Wait, you mean there’s actually public transport to the larp site? Lucky you… it’s never happened to me, especially not for full-weekend games.

#2 Can the navigator find the way from A/cilivization to B/someone’s private property in the middle of the woods? To put it plainly, do I need to print out the instructions, just in case? It has been known to help before…

#3 What’s it gonna cost, total? Highway fees included – maybe even a snack or two along the way. And coffee. (Always include coffee.)

#4 Expected departure and return time? Do we pick anyone along the way? You can never be too careful when it comes to eager “are we there yet?” larpers riding in the back of a car almost as old as they are.

#5 Will my polearm/staff fit into the car? More important than you think.

Three / Gear

#1 What the hell am I gonna wear? Anything need extra stitching to be usable again? Also, are my boots still waterproof or do they need help with that?

#2 What am I gonna fight with? Are boffers acceptable at the event? Can my computer-addicted shoulder handle the staff or do I need to take this event off of fighting?

#3 Can I afford the time and money to make a new piece of costuming and/or fighting gear – and is it really necessary for this particular game? Like, really necessary? (Sometimes larpers can be worse than shopaholics when it comes to shiny new things.)

#4 Will I freeze in this tunic? How many layers can I wear for that particular character – and what’s the forecast like anyway? You can never trust the weather people – not even for events starting the day after – but this is still one of the most important questions on this list.

#5 Will I sweat like a panda in that turban? Do pandas sweat? (Maybe, if they don’t remember to prepare for hot weather as well… you can never hide from the sun well enough in the middle of an event.)

Four / Food

#1 How many hungry packmembers (or pandas) do I need to feed? (Hey, I’m a vegetarian! Bamboo steaks are not really out of my league. But oftentimes camp food is.)

#2 Will there be any food available on the terrain? Do I need a bowl or a cup or a plate or a… whatever, as long as it can pass as “period”?

#3 Will there be a fridge? The organizers may very well surprise you… just make sure you don’t surprise them by bringing half of a month’s rations of fridge-dependant foodstuffs.

#4 Fireplace? More important than #3 – and quite more useful. Just make sure it’s big enough to host your cooking adventures as well as other people’s.

#5 Did I pack my coffee+sugar cubes+milk?

Five / Shelter

#1 Is there, heavens forbid, any possibility of indoor sleeping at the site? Who do I need to feed/get drunk to get a place inside? True, sometimes it just takes endless refreshing of the application website… but you need to know about it in advance. (Let me tell you a story – another time – about the way five very careful young priestesses refreshed their eyeballs off just to sleep indoors at a camping larp.)

#2 Did I dry my tent well enough that last time after three days of mud and #$”$!#/%& rain, or do I need to buy a new one? Can I really afford a new one?

#3 Are all my tarps and tent pegs accounted for? It’s never too late for a last minute run to the outdoor supplies store.

#4 How many sleeping bags, winter socks and fleece clothes is too many? Make sure you talk to the designated driver, too… or you might find yourself riding on the roof of the car of the car just to take all the gear with you.

#5 Do I need to bring an extra blanket according to the weather forecast for the event? Wait, let me rephrase that – is there any reason not to bring extra sleeping blankets for the event? Oh, the organizers provide panda companions for warmth during the night?

In the end, whatever happens… trust me on the fleece. And the coffee.

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